What does each offseason acquisition bring to the Falcons: Jonnu Smith

482221120012 nyj at nep

The Falcons have a ton of new faces on the roster. Not only did the club welcome another six players from the draft, but they also assembled the most talented free agent class of the new regime’s tenure. Moreover, there were a couple of trades that netted potential starters, which is the next stop in our series of exploring what each offseason acquisition brings to the Falcons — Jonnu Smith.

Check out any other parts of the series if you’ve missed them!

Jonnu Smith

A lot of the hype surrounding the Falcons offense centers around Kyle Pitts, Drake London, and Bijan Robinson. Rightfully so, those are three top 10 draft picks, but more attention needs to be brought to the “other guys” like Cordarrelle Patterson, Tyler Allgeier… and Jonnu Smith.

The Patriots moved Smith in a pure cost-cutting move, netting just a seventh-round pick but got out from underneath the contract. New England had allocated nearly $34 million to the tight end position in 2023 prior to the trade, so it made a ton of sense on that front.

For Atlanta, it also makes sense. Firstly, he agreed to rework his contract, so it’s much more team-friendly. Moreover, Arthur Smith uses multiple tight end sets more than just about every other offense in football. Lastly, the veteran’s best seasons came in Tennessee, when Arthur Smtih was his coordinator.

In 2019, Smith hauled in 35 passes for 439 yards and three scores — all career highs. And he followed it up with an even better campaign in 2020, where he recorded 41 receptions for 448 yards and eight touchdowns, adding another on the ground. Once again, those were all career-best marks.

Now, that production dipped once he signed a lucrative deal to join the Patriots. In New England, he never recorded over 300 yards or more than one touchdown in a season. The 27-year-old caught 27 passes for 245 yards and zero touchdowns last year; in 2021, he caught 28 passes for 294 yards and one touchdown — all down from his numbers with Arthur Smith.

So, what can Falcons fans expect? Well, Jonnu Smith was heralded in Tennessee for his run after the catch ability. Most of his highlights are short to intermediate routes over the middle being extended into a chunk play. He’s dangerous with the ball in his hands, and Arthur Smith found various ways to get it to him in 2019 and 2020 — including out of the backfield.

He’s a capable red zone target, able to make contested catches. He’s also a reliable blocker; no, Smith is not a specialist but can certainly hold his own in that capacity. With two versatile tight ends and running backs, Arthur Smith will be able to stretch defenses thin, forcing them into unfavorable situations.

In 22 personnel, there are two tight ends and two running backs on the field — i.e., Jonnu Smith, Kyle Pitts, Bijan, Robinson, Cordarrelle Patterson and Drake London. Most of the time, defenses will counter with heavier personnel to stop the run.

However, in this case, they might be forced to stay in a subpackage because of the receiving capabilities of Smith, Pitts, Robinson, and Patterson, who can line up on the boundary, in the slot, in line (tight ends) or in the backfield. It creates mismatches galore. If the defense goes heavy, throw it. If they stay in nickel, run the ball.

The possibilities are endless, and Jonnu Smith adds another wrinkle to the Falcons versatile offensive personnel.

Photographer: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: